Tuesday, December 17, 2013

THIEVES, WIND AND RIVER PRETTIES

Beech Creek had a cold, lonely appearance this morning with it's muddy water, colorless surroundings and gray skies.  I think I'm over this season called Winter.  I could see the sun trying to poke through the heavy layer of gray that was the ceiling of my morning.  
The hawk tree that sits atop the hill bordering the boat ramp parking lot was empty, an unusual sight at this hour in the day.  Usually there's a red tail hawk perched in that old tree but I guess even he would rather sit on a limb protected by heavier forest.  And Ah, the sun finally shines through.
The fog is starting to lift off the water.  You have to remember that I'm on site prior day break and it's cold and foggy at that hour.  As a matter of fact it's still very cold and my finger tips are almost numb from handling the wet bow line of the boat.
The sun poked through really fast and lit up the lake with the softest light.  The special brilliance wouldn't last very long though - not today but, it reflected the sky off the surface of the water perfectly.

Three rapid shotgun reports reminded me that it was duck season.  When the guns arrive on the water - all the critters disappear so I knew I wouldn't see any wildlife this morning.  It's just the way things go this time of year.  I also knew I wouldn't see any fishermen either.  Duck hunters and fishermen have a conflict of interest when on the water simultaneously.   But, my task is not to assume that no anglers are on the water.  Part of my job is to put eyes on the water and document what I see.
A trusting coot made his way among the water plants, trusting that I was a friend and acted unconcerned, although I noted his red eyeball turning toward me from time to time.
Well, well - it seems that there is another beaver family on the water.   There are new cuttings on the island and one or more of the beavers has attacked an enormous tree.  Just look at the effort they have made.  These beavers are gnawing on this tree after dark or I would have pin pointed them.
Look at the pile of wood chips lying about at the base of the tree.
I noticed a group of coots while travelling down the lake from the beaver tree and one duck stood out from the rest.  I should know what it is but I couldn't find it in the bird books I have or, at least I saw no illustration that matched.  He has a buff color with a dark buff at the back of his head that comes forward to meet the back of his eyes.  A gadwall possibly.  This duck is the only one of his kind on this water.  I've driven over the entire river section and saw no others.  He's a very pretty fellow indeed and he had better not venture down stream for that's where the duck hunters have their boats camouflaged and decoys set.  Who could shoot this pretty guy?  Duck hunters, of course.  He's really far upstream and I feel he is safe.
What a gorgeous duck!  Ducks are migrating now and the river here receives visits from all species of ducks, some quite rare.  I know the common ducks but this one has me guessing.  I'll find out.  I watched him until he padded back into the grass and dead cat tails and then he was gone from sight.  I'm actually glad of that, for his own good.
The wind has picked up force and there's actually waves on the water.  I'm happy that my time here today is near an end.  The temps never did get very warm, maybe 40 degrees in the sun.  It's been an uneventful morning, thank goodness as there have been many vehicles robbed here at Beech Creek since the holidays.  

Thieves have broken into vehicles in this parking lot every weekend since Thanksgiving, last Sunday the latest event. The parking lot is strewn with glass broken out of cars and trucks as the robbers ravaged the vehicles.  It isn't over as the duck hunters have lots of accessories locked up in their trucks and that is presenting a temptation to the robbers.  Funny thing - the thieves will not steal a cell phone or a GPS.  They know they can be tracked if they take those items.  Very clever fellows those highwaymen.  The local towns of Rogersville and Surgoinsville are both experiencing a huge drug problem and both places spawn these thieving miscreants.

It's now 7:30 PM and the wind is howling loudly outside making me keep looking at the ceiling half expecting to be seeing stars from the inside of the house any minute. Fingers crossed.  Oh well - roofs can be replaced I guess.